Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ROA Testifies in the Senate on Arlington Cemetery

ROA submitted testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight on the current Army investigation, as well as codifying rules to include Guard and Reserve interment, at Arlington National Cemetery. (ANC).

In the testimony, ROA expressed its appreciation for the office of the Secretary of the Army for undertaking proactive steps to correct the growing problems evident win burials at ANC as well as Congressional follow-up. ROA suggested that the Army needs to work closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to learn about record keeping and location identification, and expand its burial criteria to align with the VA's.

Additionally, ROA highlighted differential treatment of the Reserve Components, that, "Given that over than 750,000 National Guard and Reserve service members have answered their nation's call to serve on active duty for both homeland defense and operational contingency operations overseas, it is ironic that by returning to Selective Reserve status, they are no longer eligible for burial at ANC unless they have been decorated with a purple heart, or a medal of valor or a Silver Star or higher." ROA suggest including those who die on Active Duty Training (ADT) for less than 30 days or on Inactive Duty for Training (IDT). As a first step to include Inactive Duty for Training, ROA suggested a series of qualifications for serving Guard or Reserve who are killed in the line of duty, suggesting that those members killed while on hazardous assignment, while training under conditions simulating war, or by an instrumentality of war.

Currently, only Reserve Component members who retire in pay may be eligible for ANC burial. Another part of ROA's testimony recommended including eligibility for gray-are retirees. ROA continues to support the codification of all the rules governing access to ANC and strongly recommends that the Committee takes up the issue of the overall codification of the rules governing ANC burial as soon as possible.

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